Pick up any newspaper in any city in the world any day of the year; you will find a headline that involves health and environment. As I write this many states are grappling with the challenge of hydraulic fracturing of shale and other natural gas sources, and yes there is “fracking” in California. These most unregulated drilling processes numbering in the hundreds of thousands have impacts on air quality including global warming, drinking water and other waters, soils, air quality, and nearby populations including by noise. Fracking involves serious worker exposures and will likely cause silicosis and other lethal diseases. What we extract from the earth-- methane, coal, mercury, metals and more--all eventually embed in the natural world and in our bodies. What we make to help grow food, control pests, move our cars and flameproof our computers; all these chemicals end up in the biosphere and in our children. How we build our communities shapes our energy use, socializing, and physical activity.
Ultimately our health is the health of our environment. The United States is on the forefront of regulation and research of environmental threats, as it must be, and California is the leader of the nation—and no part of California is more impacted than the Los Angeles region, and no University more diverse and impactful than the University of California. In fact, California air pollution science and protections have become the gold standard for the world. But human beings are of course not lab animals; each of us is unique in terms of our genes, exposures, susceptibilities and resistance.
We are foturnate that we get to do meaningful work on these issues every day. Welcome to our department.
-Richard J. Jackson, EHS Department Chair